Good performances can't reconcile with hackneyed cliches in THE EX, a thriller that follows the tiresome "lover from hell" formula popularized by FATAL ATTRACTION (1987).
Businessman David Kenyon (Nick Mancuso) has been keeping a secret from his wife Molly (Suzy Amis). He was married before, for three years, to the pretty but psychotic Deidre (Yancy Butler). Molly only finds out when Deidre, just released from a mental institution, pays an unannounced visit.
Despite her athletic and all-smiles exterior, Deidre is truly the ex-wife-from-hell. As a teenager she murdered her own sister to dispose of the competition for David's affection, and thinks nothing of maiming or killing anyone who inconveniences her. Determined to lure David away, Deidre flirts
enticingly with her former husband, impersonates a child therapist to get close to David and Molly's small son Michael (Hamish Tildesley), and even takes an apartment across the street from the Kenyons, where she strips provocatively in the window. Her constant instrusions finally do summon David
for an angry bout of the masochistic sex on which Deidre thrives. But when he still won't leave Molly, Deidre tries to ruin David, with a high-profile assault allegation that turns David's friends and co-workers against him. Ultimately Deidre kidnaps Michael from school, holding the boy hostage in
a remote cabin. When David and Molly come to the rescue, Deidre gives them both a sound thrashing, until Michael uses the fire from a broken oil lantern to set diabolical Deidre ablaze.
The script is based on an inferior novel by John Lutz (whose Single White Female inspired the 1992 roommate-from-hell thriller of the same name), who co-adapts with veteran screenwriter-director Larry Cohen (THE STUFF, BLACK CAESAR, the IT'S ALIVE series). One is tempted to credit Cohen's erratic
talent with strange, subversive twists for the more intriguing aspects of THE EX, particularly when David starts looking just as sick and depraved as Molly. When a prior domestic-violence charge surfaces, David claims it resulted from a plea-bargain with Deidre's attorneys. But could the
repressed husband be carrying out his own creepy brand of foreplay with his true soulmate? Little Michael is stated to have problems controlling his anger. Is psychosis in his genes? But the filmmakers drop that aspect and grimly plod towards an over-the-top ending out of a horror-slasher pic,
with Deidre ludicrously igniting like the Hindenburg when the flames touch her. Yancy Butler is convincingly emasculating as the antiheroine, shifting from sexy to murderously malevolent in a heartbeat. Suzy Amis had the thankless job of playing the waiflike victim in two tawdry "from hell" sagas
in about a year; her ONE GOOD TURN (the long-lost-army-buddy-from-hell) had been released in 1996. Like that film, THE EX went directly to home video in most of the United States. Its distributor subsequently released yet another "from hell" called THE FIANCEE (figure that one out for yourself).
(Violence, profanity, nudity, adult situations, substance abuse.)
Cast & Details See all »
- Released: 1996
- Rating: R
- Review: Good performances can't reconcile with hackneyed cliches in THE EX, a thriller that follows the tiresome "lover from hell" formula popularized by FATAL ATTRACTION (1987). Businessman David Kenyon (Nick Mancuso) has been keeping a secret from his wife Moll… (more)